Games & Global Youth Work

Computer gaming is the world’s fastest growing entertainment medium and has become an integral part of global youth culture. Games have long been used as a mechanism for engaging, motivating, and encouraging collaboration in a youth work context. From scrabble, to icebreakers, to more purposeful games such as ‘The Trading Game’. Games serve a variety of different purposes in a youth work context, including to develop and value particular skills and knowledge, whether technical, interpersonal or creative for example.

Taking games a step further, under the guidance of a youth worker, games can become the basis upon which relationships are built, issues discussed, emotions discovered, expressed and acted upon. They can provide a space in which young people are exposed to simulated experiences of injustice and oppression. They can help build awareness, empathy, understanding and provide the impetus to act and to change.

As with youth workers, global youth work and development education practitioners have been using games extensively since the 1970s.

‘The Trading Game’ has long been one of Christian Aid’s most accessed resources and role plays such as ‘The Minorians and Majorians’ are widely used in the sector. In recent years computer games are also being used in global youth work and development education contexts, with initiatives like ‘Games for Good’ and ‘Games for Change’ well established for raising and addressing social issues.

Trócaire has games you can explore that address global issues, such as Project Honduras. Trócaire also encourage young people to make games about development issues through their ‘Game Changers’ initiative.

The NYCI Global Youth Work and Development Education Programme, alongside the NYCI STEAM and Digital Youth Work Programme and Trócaire are working on a games project for the global youth work sector.

This practical toolkit is packed full of ideas, guidance, tips, templates and resources for youth workers who want to:

  • Include gamification in their regular youth work
  • Use existing online and offline games as tools in their youth work
  • Take things a step further in designing games with young people to help them achieve personal development outcomes.

While the toolkit has a particular focus on the use of games for Development Education in youth work, it can easily be adapted to all types of youth work.